amyscoop.com

OCTOBER 2001

Wednesday, October 31, 2001
The amyscoop.com plan for a fabulous Halloween:

Step 1
But a few bags of fun-sized candy bars. I like 100,000 Grand bars, but you get what you like.

Step 2
Turn off the lights in your house.

Step 3
Ignore the doorbell. Stupid kids don't need more candy.

Step 4
Eat candy, but don't overdo it. You can always finish it tomorrow.

Step 5
Go to sleep when sugar high wanes.

Repeat yearly.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001
A friend of mine is having a '50s housewife Halloween party tomorrow night. We all get to go over for sloppy joes and Jell-o with fruit in it. I said I'd bring dessert, so I'm making a banana cream pie with Jell-o pudding. So '50s, you can almost see Sputnik. Almost.

I got asked to play a show in Grand Rapids on Thursday night. It's with this band I've never heard of, and I don't know that they've all seen me play, but they're comfortable with me just showing up and playing without practicing with them beforehand. Hey, that's cool with me. I picked up a new tambourine for it. Nothing impresses people like a new tambourine. Nothing.

I did Pilates again today, and it was a lot easier. In fact, after class I felt a few inches taller. I figure it'll only take a few years before I'm six feet tall. Oh man, by then I will totally have killer legs. Killer.

(I'm sorry -- I'm in a mood today and I feel the need to emphasize certain words. By tomorrow I'll be fully recovered. Fully.)

Monday, October 29, 2001
Domino's pizza sucks. I had some for lunch eight hours ago, and I think it's still sitting in my stomach. Something about the cheese, or cheese product, or whatever that slimy stuff is on top...it's like a huge wad of congealed goo in my gut. I haven't had Domino's since college. I forgot how nasty it is. Blech.

Someone told me that Chevrolet is coming out with a new updated El Camino, like Volkswagen did with their Beetle. This kind of interests me because for some unexplainable reason, I've always wanted one. Can you imagine? Little five-foot-two me vrooooooming down the road in my bigass muscle car? Yeah! Anyway, I can't find anything about it on their page, but this looks cool.

Sunday, October 28, 2001
I get hung up on details. Lately, I've been a little irked by how often the phrase "ground zero" gets thrown around. I'd always understood it to mean the point at which a nuclear bomb detonates, so it made no sense to me to call the former World Trade Center site "ground zero," since there wasn't a nuclear bomb involved. However, section three of this definition from dictionary.com indicates that -- surprise! -- I was wrong in getting annoyed. It defines ground zero as "the center of rapid or intense development or change." I'd say the WTC site qualifies. Phew, good thing I didn't say anything to anyone.

Saturday, October 27, 2001
Saw Serendipity last night. John Cusak was, of course, adorable. The movie itself sucked. What a dumbass premise: meet someone totally cool and instead of giving him your number, make him wait around for years until you see him again because if you're really "meant to be together," you'll run into each other again. Lame, lame, and lame. Which reminds me: why are there no good movies out? Maybe it's because I live in a small conservative midwestern town that isn't very supportive of independent films and "arts" theatres, but come on! There is like nothing even remotely good playing! Or is there? Please, if you can recommend a movie that's currently in theatres and doesn't suck, let me know. I'm sick of renting. I need the big screen and cushy seats and weird popcorn smell.

Friday, October 26, 2001
It's not even November yet, but the city of Kalamazoo has already put up its Christmas decorations and lamppost lights. I know that most places don't wait until Thanksgiving is over to decorate, but we haven't even had Halloween yet!

Last night I was in a mood, so I went to a local coffeehouse to get a snack and read. I don't drink coffee (makes me wobbly), so when it's cold out, I usually order hot tea. This was one of those places that doesn't have tea bags and has only loose tea for $2.50 a mug, and every different flavor has a weird name but they all kind of have the same grassy taste. I don't mind grassy, but I guess I just don't appreciate the variety. Anyway, I got a green tea called Angel Peach. I went over to the condiments bar (where they keep the honey and milk and cinnamon and things like that-- these are condiments, right?) to put some sugar in my tea, but I accidentally put that powdered creamer stuff in it. Not only do I not like milk in my tea, I don't like that weird dairy powder in anything, let alone tea, let alone grassy tea. I figured I'd try it, since I had just spent a few bucks on it, and just as I expected, it was gross. I was too embarrassed to ask for another one, since it cost so much (as far as tea goes) and I was too stupid to discern creamer powder from granulated sugar. So I put the full mug of thin fake milky grass water in the bus tray, ate my lemon bar, which was pretty good, read about 40 pages, and went home.

When I first started this site, I wanted the url to be my name with a .com at the end. Unfortunately, it was already taken by this person, who hasn't done a damn thing with it; the content has been the same for over a year. There are a lot of things I like about having a common name, but this is definitely not one of them. I guess I should have been more alert and snagged www.amylevine.com back in 1996.

Thursday, October 25, 2001
This is interesting: I just read an article from Sunday's New York Times about people's unwillingness to purchase books with an Oprah's Book Club sticker on them. Some bookstore patrons, it said, go as far as to request a non-Oprah-stickered copy of a book that Oprah has chosed for her book club, and will actually leave the store to buy a book elsewhere if they can't get one without the sticker. I'm usually not crazy about Oprah's picks (She's Come Undone comes to mind), but wow, not buying a book because it has that sticker on it? That's really taking it far. It's almost admirable.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001
Regarding yesterday's health care aggravation: Cover My Pills is an organization that helps women fight to get their birth control covered under their health insurance. Lots of good information if you happen to be having the same issues right now.

The Apple iPod: don't you want one? At around $400, it's kind of pricey, but what a kickass gadget! I think the name of it might be a bit off, though: iPod sounds like it should be round and I should be able to sit inside it and have it fly me around and stuff. I'm getting a very 2001 image in my head. "Open the pod bay doors, HAL." "I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave." You know what I mean.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001
This evening I had a tour of the local newspaper. I really get off on seeing huge old presses, giant vats of ink, and rolls of newsprint that weigh a ton each. I even like the smell of it. I'm the person on the tour who corners the editor, introduces myself, and asks to see the old photostat machine. (She laughed but still said no. Drat.)

Had a yoga and pilates class for the first time today. It's a lot harder than I thought it would be, and all that deep breathing made me kind of lightheaded, but I think I liked it.

Today's big issue: I found out that the health insurance for my new job doesn't cover birth control pills. I also found out that they do cover Viagra. Needless to say, I feel totally discriminated against and plan to fight this until I can get my dial of pills for four bucks a month. My mom's comment: "If the insurance company thinks they should fear terrorists, they haven't come across you yet!" Seriously, though, it would cost them a hell of a lot more if I were to get pregnant and have a baby than it would to shell out thirty bucks every month to keep me child-free and able to work. Meanwhile, if I were a 70-year-old male with Bob Dole problems, I could get my game back for four bucks. Yeah, this is fair.

Someone actually said to me today: "You know, nitrous really is a good, clean drug." It came up in a conversation about dentists, not getting high. Umm...thanks for the tip.

Monday, October 22, 2001
Just picked up Gold by Ryan Adams, and boy is it good! Highly, highly, highly recommended to anyone who has ever listened to any kind of music ever made and thought, even if only for half a second, "This is pretty good." Yeah, I like it. You probably will too.

Sunday, October 21, 2001
Finally saw Pi today. I had been wanting to see it for months, but the local video store patrons always beat me to it. But the other day it was right there on the shelf, and I watched it and loved it. I thought there were a few too many hold-your-head-and-scream scenes, but overall it was really fantastic. Interesting story line, incredible editing, and the unique film stock it was shot on to make the whites whiter and the blacks blacker worked well. (I about learned this from the production notes on the DVD.) In fact, I think there should be more movies about math -- the patterns-in-nature theme works well on film, I think. For a person who has an MA in English, I'm pretty good at math; in high school it was my best subject, and on the GREs I scored higher on the math section than some engineers I know (my scores on the verbal section were abysmal, but let's not talk about that here).

The movie reminded me of a documentary on Andrew Wiles that I saw on PBS a few years ago. Wiles formulated the proof for Fermat's Last Theorem, which states that there is no solution to an a+b=c equation when all three variables are cubed. In other words, take the Pythagorean Theorem and cube the variables instead of squaring them; squared, you can find the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle, but you can't work the equation for any numbers when the variables are cubed. No formal proof for the equation existed until Wiles cracked it -- Fermat only indicated in the margin of a book that he had a proof demonstrating that the equation never worked, but no one ever found his documentation. Wiles spent seven years of his life holed up in his attic office working the proof out. What I remember most about the documentary, though, is that he started crying when he said that he'd probably never do anything this great again. I thought it was both interesting and incredibly sad that instead of looking on his accomplishment with pride, he took it as a sign of aging, that his best and most productive years were, essentially, behind him. Anyway, Wiles is quite a celebrity in the world of professional mathematics. I don't imagine there are many math celebs, but that's just a guess.

Thursday, October 18, 2001
It's 7:30 pm, I have an article due tomorrow, and -- guess what? -- I haven't started it yet. Why do I always do this?

Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Driving home from work, I saw a Michigan license plate on a Lumina that read: OJDIDIT. The van also had one of those Jesus fish with WWJD in the middle on it. I'm guessing that the owner of the vehicle does not hold OJ and Jesus in the same regard.

You know what Google is, but if you accidentally type www.googles.com (with an S), you get trippy little cartoon characters.

Tuesday, October 16, 2001
A sad article from the Washington Post on electronic last words: emails and answering machine messages left just before the World Trade towers were hit. It's interesting how everyday scraps of conversation can suddenly become lasting memorials. It's even more interesting when you consider that this kind of final word wasn't possible even fifty years ago. Something to be remembered by seems to take on more meaning when the remembered don't know what's about to happen.

Just finished watching the third Godfather movie; I watched the first two over the weekend. These movies get better each time I see them. I even liked Part III this time: the scene at the end on the steps in front of the opera house, where Mary gets killed and Michael screams, practically had me in tears. Sofia Coppola, however, is way, way worse than I remembered. If you watch the movie with Francis Ford Coppola's commentary (damn I love this feature), he makes a few remarks about how she was so wonderful and so real in the role of Mary, and that the critics panned her because they sensed that he was weakening as a director, and that the quickest and easiest way to cut him down was to attack his daughter's performance. There may be some truth to this, but Frankie, she sucked. How did you not see that?

Monday, October 15, 2001
Today was a good day for candy. I've had Bottle Caps, Swedish Fish, and Dots since I woke up. I'm on a nasty sugar high, and my stomach isn't feeling so good, but if you offered me a bag of jellybeans, I'd probably eat them right now.

(See what happens when I have nothing to say but force myself to write something anyway?)

Saturday, October 13, 2001
What made my eyebrows raise yesterday, part one: The Godfather trilogy came out on DVD this past Tuesday, so like an automaton, I went to the video store to rent it. Yes, I've seen them all before, but now it's on DVD with Coppola's commentary, and I figured it was time I watched them again anyway. I took all three movies plus the disc of bonus material to the front. As the guy was scanning me out, he widened his eyes, looked at me, and said, "You know these are all due back tomorrow, right?" Umm...no, I didn't know that! Thinking that I didn't have time to watch ten hours of movies and three hours of bonus material within 24 hours (who does?), I put parts two and three back on the shelf.

What made my eyebrows raise yesterday, part two: Went out to dinner with some friends, then stopped by a different place afterwards for drinks and dessert. I wasn't much in a drinking mood, so I just ordered a dessert called Death by Chocolate. Lots of restaurants have a dessert with this name, and I've seen it in various incarnations, but it's always involved chocolate on chocolate on chocolate (and sometimes on chocolate). This place's version of it was a brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some caramel sauce. Now, where I come from, and probably where you come from too, we call this a brownie sundae. Not only was it not enough chocolate to kill you, it wasn't even enough to make you sick.

Thursday, October 11, 2001
The dark cloud: The release of Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, originally scheduled for December, will be delayed until at least spring of 2002.

The silver lining: It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz, so it might not be that good of a flick. I know this isn't much of an upside, since I don't want to see our boy Marty make a bad reel, but honestly, when I first heard the title, I immediately figured it would have Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci in it. In fact, I don't understand how Sir S. made a good mafia movie without them. So, unfortunately, Gangs will probably be lame and I won't like it. Therefore, I'm not too peeved about its delay. Why rush disappointment?

Wednesday, October 10, 2001
I had something really useful to say, but...umm...I forgot what it was. It's getting late, I'm kind of tired, and Christ on a stick, we're all out of Chee-tos. I can't work like this.

My office had sexual harrassment training today. It was both lame and comedic. An actual quote from the trainer before she started the training video: "See if you can pick out the actress in the video who's now on "The Young and the Restless"! Umm...yeah...we work during the day. How the hell should we know? An actual quote from a former employee who heard about our little training seminar: "Good. I've always thought the program needed more sexual harrassment. Glad to hear you're finally learning how to do it properly." Oh, ha ha.

Tuesday, October 9, 2001
Why I hate the jarnecks at my gym, part I: Actual overheard conversation:

Jarneck 1: You know what I hate about chicks who work out a lot?
Jarneck 2: What?
Jarneck 1: They lose their tits! I hate that!

As I was leaving work today, I mentioned that I had a meeting to go to later on. Someone asked -- jokingly, I hope -- if it was an AA meeting. I said, in an equally joking manner, that it was an AAA meeting. Anyway, I've been cracking myself up with that all evening. I thought about it while I was waiting on line to get a burrito, and I just started laughing out loud, right there in the burrito place in front of the burrito makers and everyone. It's a little embarassing how easily I can amuse myself.

Monday, October 8, 2001
A challenge to music fans: the other day I heard a kickass cover of the Velvet Underground's Stephanie Says. It was a woman's voice, but it wasn't Bettie Serveet. Does anyone know who it might be?

Sunday, October 7, 2001
After hearing about the events of earlier this afternoon, I went out shopping and wandering with a friend. As we were driving down the main suburban stretch, we saw at least 100 people on the side of the road holding anti-abortion signs and wearing pseudo-solemn faces. They must have covered at least a mile. It's amazing what a little bombing brings out in people.

It's also amazing what a little bombing brings out in oldies radio! I must have heard Turn! Turn! Turn! at least three times today, and let's just say that the rotation of American Pie isn't hurting either.

Okay, you're right. It's not just a little bombing. It's a lot of bombing. I apologize for my nasty tendency to be glib.

Saturday, October 6, 2001
My new favorite tv show: Home Movies. It's on the Cartoon Network and is done by the same people who brought you Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. The show focuses on an eight-year-old obsessed with his camcorder and his friends who make movies with him. The characters are all a little askew, and their hands are the same color as their shirts, but the writing is hysterical and it totally works. Unfortunately, I don't have cable, so I can't watch it too often. Happily, someone I work with tapes like every other show on tv and lets me borrow what I want.

From the Who's-on-First file: I recently got a pole lamp from IKEA but just got around to putting it together tonight. Assembling it seemed pretty straightforward, but just to be sure, I looked at the instruction sheet, which had a picture of what looked like the assembled lamp with the word "Not" over it. I took this to mean that the lamp should not look like this. But there wasn't a picture of what it should look like. So I took a look at the pieces, put it together in the way that made sense to me, screwed in the lightbulb, plugged it in, and it worked. Except it looked exactly like the picture under the word "Not"! After a few frustrating minutes, I realized that everything IKEA sells is named after the piece's designer, and the person who designed this lamp just happened to be named Not. It even said so right on the outer cardboard packaging. Oh. Note to the higher-ups at IKEA: Please watch a Laurel and Hardy routine one of these days.

Friday, October 5, 2001
After this crazy, sleep-deprived week, my plans for this weekend include picking up around the house, making chili, and watching the entire first season of The Sopranos. (Nobody had better fuck with me on Monday.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2001
Busy day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2001
I really like my new job. It's feels strange to feel that way about work, but for now, it's actually even a little fun. I'm happy to be back in an academic setting, I'm surrounded by all kinds of beautiful equipment, and the people are actually okay. Today, though -- today rocked. They let me spend money on kickass new equipment (for the students -- always for the students), see, so today I got to walk into a camera store, point to a stack of Nikon Coolpix 995s, and say, quite nonchalantly, "I'll take five of those, please." Ooh, and next week I get to pick up a few more G4s. This, friends, is vicarious spending at its very, very best.

Monday, October 1, 2001
You know, on Friday morning you think you're going to have a nice, relaxing weekend, and then it's Monday night and you haven't relaxed at all. At least I finally got to see Scarface. Where the hell have I been that I hadn't seen this movie until the other night? Al Pacino and mafia flicks rock. If I could pull it off, I'd buy a pin stripe suit right goddamn now. I'm considering changing the upholstery in my car to a nice fuzzy zebra stripe, but that kind of thing probably looks better in a Cadillac convertible than it does in a Civic four-door.

My first "column" for a local magazine comes out this week. I kind of liked what I wrote when I was writing it, but now, upon further reflection, I'm a little embarrassed about it. Maybe I'll post it on here one of these days. We'll see what people think, and if anyone can actually tell me it's stupid to my face.


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